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Online Ed Disconnect

By Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

The most independent and self-motivated students entering college are more likely to expect they will take a fully online course as undergraduates, a new survey says, but the vast majority of students still connect higher education with the traditional residential experience.

The 2013 Freshman Survey, conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program, suggests that more than two-thirds, or 69.8 percent, of entering freshmen are using online instructional materials such as massive open online courses and video lectures on their own time, compared to less than half, or 41.8 percent, as an assignment in a high school class.

Yet once they reach college, the expectation that fully online courses will be a part of the schedule plummets. Less than one in every 10 students in the fall 2013 freshman class at almost every type of four-year institution said there is a “very good chance” they will enroll in a fully online course. Students at private universities are least likely to think so -- only 3 percent of respondents at those institutions picked that answer -- but the interest isn’t much higher at public four-year colleges, where 8 percent of students said the same.

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